This past summer, Philadelphia Flyers GM Chuck Fletcher set a high bar for the Flyers offseason. A bar that resembled the message being put forth by ownership.
Fletcher’s message to the fans was “an aggressive re-tool.” A direct testament to Flyers ownership’s “blank-check” messaging that was set by CEO Dave Scott.
But, after failing to create cap space, the Flyers “aggressive re-tool” came and went with minimal impact.
Chuck Fletcher’s biggest move of the offseason was sending three draft picks to Carolina for Tony DeAngelo. A move, at the time, that signaled some uncertainty in the status of Ryan Ellis – who is now out for the season.
Instead of an “aggressive re-tool”, Fletcher decided to bank mostly on the Flyers getting healthy.
Sean Couturier, who missed the final 53-games last season, was a big part of that plan. But, Couturier has yet to play a game this season after his second back surgery in eight and a half months on October 29th.
With the Flyers once again dealing with injuries to start the season, Chuck Fletcher’s messaging changed. Putting the focus on the younger players on the roster.
“We could have up to 10 players on our roster 25 years old and younger,” Fletcher said on Day1 of training camp. “There’s a lot of opportunity for some young players to step up and show what they can do.”
The day before the start of the season, Fletcher added “there’s 12 players on the 23-man roster that are 25 and under. Think 9 of them are 24 and under. So, they’re a little bit unproven. That’s something we’re going to have to work through that Torts has been addressing.”
Fletcher’s message change from “aggressive re-tool” to youth movement was a big step. Something that signaled the Flyers may have actually understood the situation they are in.
However, on Thursday, Fletcher’s message has changed once again. Failing to realize the current state of his team.
With the Flyers getting somewhat healthy, Fletcher now has his eyes set on this season again. The complete opposite viewpoint of his team just two months ago.
“Think there’s a path forward here to be more competitive,” Fletcher said on Thursday when discussing the nan”I expect to be more competitive the rest of the way.”
Fletcher continued with “we’re five points out of a wild card spot now. We’ll see. We’ll see if we have the capability of staying in that race and competing.”
Instead of continuing to embrace the Flyers youth movement, Fletcher is falling back to his original message of getting healthy.
Head coach John Tortorella has embraced the youth movement since the start of the season.
“Listen we want to win. But, I also have to look further down the road in developing people,” Tortorella said after the Flyers opening night win over the Devils. “I’m going to give them an opportunity, I have to. I have to find out about players in certain situations, so hopefully they grow.”
Tortorella added “that’s what you hope. You hope you have some success and their better at the next time because they feel better about themselves. That’s the whole key in developing.”
This message was reiterated yesterday when Tortorella met with the media after morning skate.
“Where we’re at as a team, we are grassroots, as far as teaching,” Tortorella said about his team. “This isn’t a one-year type of thing. We’ve got some work to do. And it’s gonna take some time, no matter what people want to hear out here. It’s going to take some time to get this right.”
Tortorella’s message about where he believes the Flyers are at was a honest assessment to their current state. Not a rush to judgment, as Chuck Fletcher worded it.
Chuck Fletcher believing the Flyers getting healthy will automatically make them better is just not reality.
As John Tortorella put it, this team is far from perfect and still in the “building stage.” Not to mention being even close to be considered in a playoff race as Chuck Fletcher eluded too.
The disconnect between Chuck Fletcher’s and John Tortorella’s reality is very concerning for the Flyers future. Even though Fletcher has stated multiple time he & Tortorella are on the same page.
Especially if Chuck Fletcher is retained beyond this season. Which is still in jeopardy.
The route the Flyers should take is to accept reality as it is. The same message that John Tortorella has stayed consistent with since the beginning of the season.
With Chuck Fletcher continuing to flip-flop his messaging, it brings up the question – is Fletcher the right man for the job? Especially with his head coach talking honestly about his viewpoint of the team.
Whether or not Chuck Fletcher is retained this season, the Flyers need to accept reality and follow their head coaches honest reality. Building the Flyers the right way instead of continuing to jazz up a team in the bottom third of the NHL.
This is the only way – and the correct way – the Flyers should be thinking. Not thinking about being 5-points out of a playoff spot.